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Quite the Compelling SCOTUS Term So Far

Two weeks and just four argument days in, OT19 already feels more compelling than last term. We’re working hard to keep pace across all six of our “fixes,” which you can read about below.

Media and public access:
On the first Monday in October, FTC researcher Dylan Hosmer-Quint arrived at SCOTUS at 4:15 a.m. and just barely made it into the courtroom for arguments. His luck was better than that of suburban D.C. dad Keith Anderko, who showed up at 3:45 a.m. with his nine-year-old daughter to try to hear a case last term, only to find themselves being bumped by 24 line-standers holding the places for 36 people. You can read about the Anderkos here. On the circuit level, and thanks to a C-SPAN-RCFP-FTC tag team, CA2 granted live audio for its hearing on President Trump’s financial records (19-3204, Trump v. Vance) this Wednesday. We’re also requesting live audio for November death penalty cases in CA11, and we’ll ask for a livestream of the Dec. 12 Trump emoluments en banc in CA4.

Term limits:
We finally got a Democratic debate question on SCOTUS reform, and ending life tenure was among the ideas discussed. A national Marquette Law poll of 1,423 adults out today gives ending SCOTUS life tenure a 72%-28% edge over keeping life tenure. Meanwhile FTC researcher Tyler Cooper has been tracking all the times members of Congress have tried to limit the tenure of federal judges and justices since our nation’s founding; turns out that all the “new” energy around SCOTUS term limits isn’t so new after all.

Code of ethics:
FTC ED Gabe Roth wrote an op-ed in USA Today saying that if the court wants to be seen as nonpartisan, it could release cert. votes demonstrating that its grants are not just based on the desired outcomes of one bloc of justices, left or right.

Stocks and recusals:
We’re tracking the recusals in orders lists this month, and from them we know that Chief Justice Roberts still owns shares in Charter Communications, Justice Breyer owns Lowe’s and United Technologies shares and Justice Alito owns Becton Dickinson and UTC shares…because why again?

Financial disclosure and oversight:
The travel transparency bill that dropped in the House and Senate last week has a new House co-sponsor, Rep. Khanna of California. The free PACER bill – we expect a markup next month, either in House or Senate Judiciary – has new ones, as well: Rep. Cline of Virginia, who’s also on the travel bill, and Rep. Stanton of Arizona, whose FTC-approved SCOTUS security bill passed House Judiciary unanimously last week. Senate Judiciary will mark up its SCOTUS security bill this Thursday.

Public appearances:
By our count, 25 of the 25 judges, former judges and justices scheduled to appear at FedSoc 2019 are Republican-appointed (19 Trump, 6 Bush). For comparison, ACS 2019 only had one R-appointed judge, Jeff Sutton. That’s not a good look from either.

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